Rand Paul's speech on the Senate floor against the "PATRIOT" Act extension and in favor of his amendments

This is a good speech from Rand Paul -- he gets into some details like how banks are required to report you for any transaction over $5000, how the government has looked at 28 million electronic records under the "PATRIOT" Act according to the Inspector General, etc. Very sad that so few Senators cared enough about freedom to stand with him! Here's a link to the video -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F6sCeptJIM -- or you can read the transcript below.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Senate Votes on Sen. Paul’s USA PATRIOT Act Amendments

May 26, 2011

  WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Sen. Rand Paul received votes on two of his amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act extension. Amendment 363 clarifies that the authority to obtain info under the USA PATRIOT Act does not include authority to obtain certain firearm records. Amendment 365 would require financial institutions to issue suspicious activity reports only in cases in which an appropriate law enforcement agency initiates the request.
  Amendment 363 failed 10-85; amendment 365 failed 4-91.
Sen. Paul took to the floor for an hour of procedural debate before the votes on his amendments and final passage of the bill. Below is a video and transcript of his remarks.



Mr. Paul: I'm pleased today to come to the floor of the senate to talk about the PATRIOT Act.

I'm pleased that we have cracked open the door that we will shed some light on the PATRIOT Act.

I wish the door were wider open, the debate broader and more significant, but we will talk a little bit about the constitutionality today of the PATRIOT Act.

I was a cosponsor of Senator Leahy's amendment, and I think it would have gone to many great steps forward to make sure that we have surveillance on what our government does; authorized audits and the inspector general to continue to watch over to make sure that government is not invading the rights of private citizens.

And I do support that wholeheartedly. Jefferson said that if we had a government of angels, we wouldn't have to care or be concerned about the power that we give to government.

Unfortunately, sometimes we don't have angels in charge of our government.

Sometimes we can even get a government in charge that would use the power of government in a malicious or malevolent way to, look at the banking records of people they disagree with politically, to look at the religious practices of people they disagree with.

So it's very important that we are always vigilant, that we are eternally vigilant of the powers of government, that they not grow to such an extent that government could be looking into our private affairs for nefarious reasons.

We have proposed two amendments that we will have votes on today. One of them concerns the second amendment.

I think it's very important that we protect the rights of gun owners in our country not only for hunting, but for self-protection, and that the records of those in our country who own guns should be secret.

I don't think the government, well-intentioned or not well-intentioned, should be sifting through millions of records of gun owners.

Why? There have been times even in our history when government has invaded your household to take things from you.

In the 1930s, government came into your household and said give us your gold. Gold was confiscated in this country in 1933.

Could there conceivably be a time when government comes into your house and says we want your guns? Well, people say that's absurd. That would never happen. I hope that day never comes. I'm not accusing anybody of being in favor of that.

But I am worried about a government that is sifting through millions of records without asking, "Are you a suspect?", without asking "Are you in league with foreign terrorists; are you plotting violent overthrow of your government?"

By all means, if you are, let's look at your records. Let's put you in jail. Let's prosecute you.

Would this not sift through hundreds of millions of gun records to find out whether or not you own a gun or not?

Let's don't leave those data banks in the hands of government where someday those could be abused. What we're asking for are procedural protections. The constitution gave us those protections.

The second amendment gives you the right to keep and bear arms. The fourth amendment is equally important. It gives you the right to be free of unreasonable search. It gives you the right to say that government must have probable cause.

There must be at least some suspicion that you are committing a crime before they come into your house or before they go into your records, wherever your records are. The constitution doesn't say that you only have protection of records that are in your house.

You should have protection of records that reside in other places. Just because your Visa record resides with a Visa company doesn't make it any less private. If you look at a person's Visa bill, you can find out all kinds of things about them.

If you look at a person's Visa bill, you can find out what doctors they go to, do they go to a psychiatrist? Do they have mental illness? What type of medications do they take?

If you look at my Visa bill, you can tell what type of books I read, what types of magazines I read. One of the provisions of the PATRIOT Act is called the library provision. They can look at the books you check out in the library.

People say well still a judge has to sign these warrants, but we change the standard. The standard of the fourth amendment was probable cause. They had to argue, or at least convince a judge that you were a suspect. They were doing something wrong.

Now the cause or the standard has been changed to relevance. So it could be that you went to a party with someone who was from Palestine, who gives money to some group in Palestine that may well be a terrorist group or not.

But the thing is because I went to a party with them, because I know that person, am I now somehow connected enough to be relevant? And they would say, well, your government would never do that.

They would never go and investigate people. The problem is this is all secret. So I don't know if I've been investigated. My Visa bill sometimes have been $5,000. Sometimes we pay for them over the phone, which is a wire transfer.

Have I been investigated by my government? I don't know. It's secret. What I want are protections. I want to capture terrorists. Sure, if terrorists are moving machine guns and weapons in our country, international terrorists, by all means let's go after them.

But you know the worst people, the people we want to lock up forever, the people all of us universally agree, people who commit murder, people who commit rape, we want to lock them up and throw away the book, and I'm all with you.

But we still have the protections of the fourth amendment.

If someone is running around in the streets of Washington tonight, at 4:00 in the morning and we think they may have murdered someone, we will call a judge and we will get a warrant. Just because we believe in procedural protections, just because we believe in the constitution doesn't mean that we don't want to capture terrorists.

We just want to have some rules. I'll give you an analogy. Right now you have been to the airport. Most of America has been to the airport at some point or time in the last year or two. Millions of people fly every day.

But we're taking this shotgun approach; we think everyone is a terrorist. So everyone is being patted down, everyone is being strip searched. We are putting our hands inside the pants of 6-year-old children.

Have we not gone so far, are we so afraid that we're willing to give up all of our liberty in exchange for security?

Franklin said if you give up your liberty, you'll have neither. If you give up your liberty in exchange for security, you may well wind up with neither.

Because we take this shotgun approach, we take this approach that everybody is a potential terrorist, I think we actually are doing less of a good job in capturing terrorists because if we spend our time going after those who are committing terrorism, maybe we'd spend less time on those who are living in this country -- children and otherwise, frequent business travelers who are not a threat to our country -- instead of wasting time on these people, we could spend more time on those who would attack us.

I'll give you an example. The underwear bomber - for goodness sake, his dad reported him embassy and said, my son is a potential throat your country. We did nothing. He was on a watch list. We still let him get on a plane. He'd been to Nigeria, to Yemen twice.

For goodness sakes, why don't we take half of the people in the TSA that are patting down our children and have them look at the international flight manifest of those traveling from certain countries who could be attacking us.

For goodness sakes, why don't we target who we're looking at. My other amendment concerns banking records. 8 Million banking records have been looked at in our country, not by the government. They have empowered your bank to spy own.

Every time you go into your bank, your bank is made to spy on you if you make a transaction more than $5,000. The bank is encouraged to report you. If the bank doesn't report you, they let a large fine and the tune of $100,000 or more.

They could get five years in prison. They are over-encouraged. The incentive is for the bank to report everyone. So once upon a time, these suspicious activity reports were maybe 10,000 in a year. They're now over a million of these suspicious activity reports.

Do I want to capture terrorists? Yes.

Do I want to capture terrorists transferring large amounts of money? Yes.

When we're wasting time on 8 million transactions, the vast majority of these transactions citizens, we're not targeting the people who would attack us. Let's do police work.

If there are terrorist groups in the Middle East and we know who they are, let's investigate them. If they have money in the U.S. or they're transferring it between banks, by all means let's investigate them. But let's have some constitutional protections.

Let's have some protections that say, you must ask a judge for a warrant. Some have said, how would we get these people?

How would we capture those who are transferring weapons? We would investigate.

We have all kinds of tools and we've been using these tools. Others have said, well, we've captured these people through the PATRIOT Act and we never could have gotten them. The problem with that is it's un-provable.

You can tell me that you've captured people through the PATRIOT Act, but you can't prove that you would have captured them and prosecuted them, had you not asked for a judge. We have a special court.

It's called the FISA court, it's been around since the late-1970s, not one warrant was ever turned down before the PATRIOT Act. But they say we need more power, we need more power given to these agencies, and we don't need any constitutional restraint anymore.

But my question is, the fourth amendment said you had to have a probable cause, you had to name the person and the place.

Well, how do we change and get rid of probable cause and change it to a standard of relevance -- how do we do that and amend the constitution without actually amending the constitution?

These are important constitutional questions. But when the PATRIOT Act came up, we were so frightened by 9/11, that it just flew through here. There were not enough copies to be read, one copy was to be read. No senator read the PATRIOT Act and didn't go through the standard procedure.

Look at what's happening here. Ten years later you'd think the fear and hysteria would have gotten to such a level that we could go through the committee process.

Senator Leahy's bill went to committee, it was deliberated upon, it was discussed, it was debated, it was passed out with bipartisan support, it came to the floor with bipartisan support, but you know what it's not getting a vote now?

Because they've backed us up against a deadline. There have been people who are implied in print that if I hold PATRIOT Act up and they attack us tonight, that I'm responsible for the attack.

There are been people who have implied that if some terrorist gets a gun, that I'm somehow responsible. It's -- it's sort of the analogy of saying that because I believe that you should get a warrant before you go into a potential or alleged murderer's house that somehow I'm in favor of murder.

I'm in favor 6 having constitutional protections. These arose out of hundreds of years of common law. They were codified in our constitution because we were worried.

We were incredibly concerned about what the king had done. We were concerned about what a far distant parliament was doing to us without our approval.

We were concerned about what James Otis called "writs of assistance." Writs of assistance were pieces of paper that are warrants that were written by soldiers. They were telling us we had to house the British soldiers in our house, and they were giving general warrants, which meant we're just going to search you willy-nilly. We're not going to name the person or place; we're not going to name the crime you are accused of.

If a government were comprised of angels, we wouldn't need the fourth amendment.

What I argue for here now is protections that protect us all, should we get a despot, should we someday elect somebody who doesn't have respect for rights.

We should obey rules and laws. Is this an isolated episode that we're here talking about the PATRIOT Act and there is insufficient time. It is a deadline, "hurry, hurry, we must act." It is not an isolated time. We have had no sufficient time to debate the war with Libya. We are now encountered in a war in Libya.

We now have a war in which there has been no congressional debate and no congressional vote. But you know what they argue? They say it is just a little war. But you know what? It is a big principle.

It is the principle that we as a country elect people. It is a principle that we are restrained by the Constitution, that you are protected by the constitution, and if I ask the young men and women here today to go to war and say we're going to go to war, that there darn well should be a debate in this body.

We are abdicating those responsibilities. We are not debating the PATRIOT Act sufficiently. We are not having an open amendment process.

Why, am I pleased it took me three days of sitting down here filibustering, but I am going to get two amendment votes. I am very happy and pleased that we came together to do that. I wish we would do more. I wish Senator Leahy's bill were being voted here on the floor.

I wish there were a week's worth of debate. The thing is we come here to Washington expecting these grand debates. I've been here four months. But I expected that the important questions of the day would be debated back and forth. Instead, what happens so often is the votes are counted and recounted and laboriously counted and when they know they can beat me, when they know they can beat somebody else, then they allow the vote to come to the floor.

But some, like Senator Leahy's bill, I'm suspicious that it's not going to be voted on because we may not be able to beat it. Or they may not be able to beat it. I support it so the question is, should we have some more debate in our country?

We have important things pressing on us. I've been here for four months and I'm concerned about the future of our country because of the debt burden, because of this enormous debt we're accumulating.

But are we debating fully? Are we talking about ways we could come together, how Republicans and Democrats, right and left, could come together to figure out a crisis, this crisis of debt? No, I think we're so afraid of debate.

But particularly with the PATRIOT Act, the thing is with the PATRIOT Act is that it's so emotional, because anyone who stands up like myself and says we need have protections for our people, that we shouldn't sift through every gun owner in America through their records, looking and just trolling. Interestingly, we have looked at 28 million electronic records when the inspector general looked at this. 28 million electronic records. We've looked at 1,600,000 texts.

If you said to me, they asked a judge and they thought they were terrorists, I don't have a problem. But do you want them trolling through your Facebook? Do you want them trolling through your e-mails? Do you want a government that is unrestrained by law?

This ultimately boils down to whether we believe in the rule of law. So often we give lip service to it on our side and the other side and says, we believe in the Constitution and the rule of law. When you need to protect the rule of laws, when it is most unpopular, when everybody tells you that you're unpatriotic or you're for terrorism because you believe in the Constitution, that's when it's most precious that's what it is that you need stand up and say "no," we can fight.

We can preserve our freedoms. We are who we are because of our freedoms and our individual liberty. If we give that up, we're no different than those we oppose.

Those who wish to destroy our country want to see us dissolve from within. We dissolve from within when we give up our liberties. We need to stand up and be proud of the fact that in our country it's none of your darn business what we're reading. It's none of your business where we go to the doctor or the movie or what our magazines are. It's nobody's business here in Washington what we're doing.

If they think it is the business of law enforcement, get a warrant. Prove to somebody -- at least have one step that says, that person is doing something suspicious. The thing is that these suspicious activity reports -- 8 million of them have been filed in the last eight years -- the government doesn't have ask about this.

It is sort of like they have deputized the banks. The banks have become sort of like police agency. Banks are expected to know what is in the bank secrecy act. They're expected to know thousands of pages of regulations. If you don't report everybody, if you don't report these transactions, we'll fine you, put new jail or we'll put you out of business. That is a problem. It is a real problem. That's what's come of this.

And I think we need to have procedural protections. If at this point there is a request from the senator from I will yield for a question or for a comment, I would be happy to, if it is about the PATRIOT Act. Okay.

The amendments that I will -- the amendments that I will be proposing will be about two issues and we will have votes on them. We've been given the time to debate, which I'm glad we fought for. We'll basically be given a virtually insurmountable huddle. This will be maybe the first time in recent history I remember seeing this, but they will move to table my motions.

In order for me to defeat the tabling motions, I will have to get 60 votes. It is similar to the votes that we have when you have to overcome a cloture vote or you have to overcome a filibuster. But we really aren't having any vote where there is a possibility of me winning. There's really a foregone conclusion. The votes are voted in advance.

I am proud of the fact that I fought for, though, and we got some debate on the floor and then maybe in bringing this fight that the country will consider and reconsider the PATRIOT Act. But we need to have more debate.

Senator Leahy's bill needs to be fully debated, needs to come out. Maybe when there's not a deadline, maybe it will come forward. Maybe we can have some discussion.

But I guess most of my message is that we shouldn't be fearful. We shouldn't be fearful of freedom, we shouldn't be fearful of individual liberty. And they're not mutually exclusive.

You don't have to give up your liberty to catch criminals. You can catch criminals and terrorists and protect your liberty at the same time. There is a balancing act that what we did in our hysteria after 9/11 was we didn't do any kind of balancing act.

We just said, come and get it. Here is our-- --come and get it here is our freedom. Come and get it. We don't care whether there is review in congress. We don't care whether there is to be an inspector general looking at this.

One of my colleagues today reported, "well, there's no evidence those 8 million banking investigations are bothering or doing anything to innocent people." There is a reason for there being no evidence. They're secret. You're not told if your bank has been spying on you. If your bank has put in a suspicious activity report, you're not informed of that.

So the bottom line is, just because there's no complaint doesn't mean there haven't been abuses. There is a something called national security letters. These are written by officers of the law, by F.B.I agents.

There's no review of judges. There have been 200,000 of these. There's been an explosion of those national security letters. And we don't know whether they are always abused because they're secret in fact, here's how deep the secret goes.

When the PATRIOT Act was originally passed, you weren't allowed to tell your lawyer. If the government came to you agent's request, you could not even tell your lawyer. This I think is very disturbing. They finally got around to changing that.

But you know what? If I have an internet service, if I am a server and they come to me with a policeman's request and they say, give us your records, if I tell anyone other than my attorney, I can go to jail for five years. A veil of secrecy so even if the government is abusing the powers, we will never know.

As we go forward on these, i would hope that there would be some deliberation and that the vote, as it goes forward, people will think about that we need to balance our freedoms with our security. I think we all want security.

Nobody wants what happened on 9/11 to happen again. But I think we don't need to simplify the debate to such an extent that we simply say we have to give up our liberties.

For example, I can't tell you how many times people have come up to me in Washington, other elected officials, and they say, we could have gotten Moussaoui, the 19th hijacker, if we would have had the Patriot Act. The truth of the matter is we didn't capture Moussaoui because we had poor police work.

And ask yourself, did we fire anybody after 9/11? We gave people gold medals. We gave them medals of honor for their intelligent work after 9/11.

To my knowledge, not one person was fired. Do you think we were doing a good job before 9/11? We had the 19th hijacker in prison or in custody for a month before 9/11. We had his computer. When they looked at Moussaoui's computer four days after 9/11 or the day after 9/11, they connected all the dots to most of the hijackers and to people in Pakistan.

Why didn't we look at his computer? Was it because we didn't have the prerogative? They didn't ask. An agent in Minnesota wrote 70 letters to his superiors saying ask for a warrant. His superiors didn't ask for a warrant.

Do you think we should have done something about that after 9/11? We gave everybody in the F.B.I and the C.I.A medals. We gave the leaders medals for meritorious service and no one blinked an eye. What did we do?

We passed the PATRIOT Act and said, come and take our liberties, make us safe. We have to protect what we read, to protect what we view, to protect what -- where we go and who we associate. We shouldn't allow government to patrol willy-nilly through millions of records.

You've heard of warrantless wiretaps. A lot of these things are unknown because they're so secret that nobody knows, even many of us don't even know the extent of these things. But I can tell you that there's a great deal of evidence that we are looking at millions of records and that millions of citizens are having their records looked at.

Now, are we doing anything, are we imprisoning innocent folks? No, I don't think we're doing that. I think they're good people. I think the people I've met with, the people I've met in our government, they want to do the right things.

But what I'm fearful of is there comes a time when you've given these powers up. You know, when you recognize, for example, the constitutional discussion over war, if you say, well, Libya's just a small war, we don't care, and you say that congress has a say in this, what happens when we get a president who decides to send a million troops into war and we simple say -- simply say, who cares, we let the president do whatever he does because he's got unlimited powers.

You know, we fought a war, we fought long and hard to restrict -- we wanted an executive that was bound by the chains of the constitution. We wanted a presidency, an executive branch that was bound by the checks and balances. That's what our Constitution's about. It is about debate. Debate is important. Amendments are important.

Bringing forward something from committee that would have reformed the PATRIOT Act is incredibly important, to have those debates on the floor. And that's why there is a certain amount of disappointment to having arrived in Washington and to see the fear of debate of the constitution and that we really need to be debating these things.

We need to have full amendments. We need to. Can there be any excuse why the inspector general should not be reviewing other agencies of government to find out if your rights are being trampled upon?

So I would ask, in conclusion, that as these amendments come forward, that people think about it, think about our constitutional protections, but don't go out and say that, you know, the senator from Kentucky doesn't want to capture terrorists or that the senator from Kentucky wants people to have guns and to attack us.

Because the thing is, is we can have reasonable philosophic debates about this but we need to be having an open debate process, we need to talk about the constitutional protections, the protections that protect us all, and we need to be aware of that.

I tell people, you can't protect the second amendment if you don't believe in the fourth amendment. You can't protect the second amendment if you don't believe in the first amendment. It's all incredibly important and I hope as we go forward on this vote, and even though I will likely fail because of the way the rules are set occupy the vote, I hope as we go forward that at least somebody will begin to discuss this. Somebody will begin to discuss where we should have some constitutional restraint.

Senator Leahy will have a chance to bring his bill forward, that there will be a full and open debate, and I hope that we've cracked the door open, that I've been a small part of that. Thank you, madam president.